Book review: ImageMagick Tricks by <i>Sohail Salehi</i>

Book review: ImageMagick Tricks by Sohail Salehi


ImageMagick, as many would know, is a software suite for image manipulation and display, supporting a wide variety of formats. But, what is less widely known is the many facets it has, and the wide array of things that can be done with it. This book gives you more than a hint of all that’s possible.

There’s more (much more) to ImageMagick than you thoughtThere’s more (much more) to ImageMagick than you thought

A smart, detailed book on a free software program which, one hardly realises, is actually so versatile. Detailed and useful.

Iran-born Salehi did a good job in coming up with a number of details about ImageMagick, which I hardly knew existed! From its core utilites to much more

The contents

ImageMagick is a powerful tool. With the help of just a few keystrokes at the command-line, one can edit photos, create thumbnails, filter images, and much, much more. But who actually can remember the complex ImageMagick set of commands?

Not that one always needs an entire book for remembering these commands; there is always the web. Yet, it can be helpful to have a text that lets you know various facets of the power you didn’t even suspect existed in the software you’re using.

But let’s start at the beginning: “ImageMagick (TM) was introduced in 1999 by ImageMagick Studio LLC for the first time. It is a graphical application used for performing image processing tasks. It is a powerful collection of tools and libraries to read, write, and manipulate images in about 100 formats.”

Iran-born Salehi does a good job in coming up with a number of details about ImageMagick, which I hardly knew existed! From its core utilites to much more.

ImageMagick allows you to do a number of basic functions with images—display, convert, import, animate, composite, create a montage, mogrify, conjure, and identify.

Claims the book: “This fast-paced and practical tutorial is packed with examples of photo manipulations, logo creation, animations, and complete web projects. With this book up your sleeve, you’ll be creating spellbinding images from code in no time.”

From ImageMagick’s “core utilities” (chapter one), we move on to installing the software, and specific commands like convert and mogrify; composite and montage; or identify, display and import.

Chapters three to seven elaborate on the more-basic capabilities of ImageMagick. One chapter (ch six) is devoted to animation, apart from other topics. Some ideas are easy even for a non-techie to understand. Chapter eight focuses on practical web projects.

Some of the best chapters are saved for the last. There are detailed tips on how to create customized e-cards and even a wizard for this purpose. Even how to create neat book covers, all with ImageMagick. There are two appendices—on installing new fonts, and compression in ImageMagick.

Salehi keeps reminding us of ImageMagick’s power: “You may not believe how easy ImageMagick can do it (resizing about 3000 photos of different sizes and formats and place a watermark on them) for you. With a single command you can resize, watermark, add effects, frame, arrange, convert, format, and do many more tasks on a single image or a bunch of various images.”

Salehi admits the limitations in the book itself: if you are a programmer using compilers or server-side languages like PHP, you could find your favourite ImageMagick API for your compiler. Yet, as the author points out, space limitations meant the book “concentrates just on command-line utilites”. We are told that “maybe” titles on other ImageMagick API’s will be published in time.

Who’s this book for?

This book calls itself a “fast-paced and practical tutorial” that is “packed with examples of photo manipulations, logo creation, animations, and complete web projects”. It adds: “With this book up your sleeve, you’ll be creating spellbinding images from code in no time”. And it promises to be a book for “anybody who wants to learn ImageMagick” even if you are not “an expert in Unix commands or image processing (but just have) lots of imagination and a smattering of creativity”.

Relevance to free software

ImageMagick is free software, and this book is directly relevant to it. If graphics is your field, and free software your commitment, this is a “worth-it” title. I learnt a lot reading it...

Pros

Why people should buy it

  • Detailed and comprehensive
  • Specialised towards one specific program
  • Simple to-the-point language and style

Cons

Why people shouldn’t buy it:

  • Too detailed, unless you’re into this subject
  • Price factor
Title ImageMagick Tricks: Web Image Effects from the Command Line and PHP
Author Sohail Salehi
Publisher Packt Publishing, Birmingham-Mumbai, www.packtpub.com
ISBN 1904811868
Year of publication June 2006
Pages 216
Price US$34.99
CD included No
FS Oriented 9/10
Over all score 6/10

In short

Category: 
License: 

Comments

Author information

Frederick Noronha's picture

Biography

Frederick Noronha is a freelance journalist based in Goa, India. He regularly writes articles on free software. He is a co-founder of Bytesforall.